We recently had a chat with Olawale Adegoke, the founder of Lovefootball who told us how his passion for football led him to build the gaming startup
Olawale grew up loving football and of course, he still does like any average football fan across the world. He gets excited when he sees people around him get entertained from watching sports.
However, beyond seeing football fans getting excited, Olawale felt the need for them to enjoy both the psychological feel and a financial benefit.
Owing to this he founded LVM a company that focuses on creating platforms for young people to connect and engage them.
The company’s flagship product called Lovefootball according to Olawale is a community for all football fans that enables them to get updated about football, get rewarded for their knowledge of the game, and get connected with other football lovers like themselves.
“Our platform is a daily fantasy football platform where people can create or join fantasy football contests based on different international tournaments around the world and different leagues as well.”
Olawale explained that Fantasy football is a type of gaming where people pick players and gain points as a result of the player’s performance on game day.
Then we have contests whereby people play with the available players in the league, they pick the players they want to start in their own team, so they are the managers of their team.
They can also enter into contests with other members who have also picked their teams and then the team with the highest points is the winner.
You can have as many as 50 to 100,000 people in a contest and you can have just 2 people which is basically a head-to-head contest and that’s basically what our app does.
“We launched our MVP (the daily fantasy football app) on the 5th of October, 2020 and we have so far had about 3000 sign-ups and a daily active user count of almost 100 people.”, Olawale added
Speaking on the startup’s mission, Olawale stated that lovefootball is keeping fans updated about football every day, reward them for their knowledge of football and connect them with other fans.
“Basically, we plan to use this to create a football community. unify people all over the world because we believe that football is a great unifying factor among humans beings in the world and we believe that unity and togetherness is something that is needed most in the world and football is a sport that really does that.”
Olawale explained that Lovefootball plans to grow the local football scene in Nigeria because in England which is the top football league that has caught the interest of Nigerians has successfully developed its football league such that it has created an industry providing people with jobs and community relationship.
He further stated that the game creates a great spectacle while keeping people entertained and engaged.
“Our long-term goal is to harness the love and passion people have for football and then invest it back into our country’s football system and improve it to the level where Europe, Asia, and other countries are in terms of development and strategy. We also want to have 50,000 new signups in the year 2021.”
Football and data
Football generates huge amounts of data and this is linked to sports science. It’s not just about kicking a ball around there are formations involved, players play different positions and perform different actions on the pitch.
The founder explained that there’s been a lot of effort and technology that has been put into data gathering in the football world generally in order to allow people to understand the game more and make changes in the game. It also allows fans to enjoy the game.
Stating an example, he illustrated how data points enable fans to know the scores at the end of a march, the goals that each team scored, how many passes were made in the match, the distance that a player ran.
According to him, these factors are important because fans are interested in the information.
Olawale stated further that the sports betting industry is huge, the sports betting industry relies on data and technology to feed the odds and feed information back into the system and allows people to know at the end of the day who won because there is value on the table.
“Our application allows people to win cash by allowing people to play fantasy football every day and it is not just a regular betting app because we don’t have a house”, Olawale added
Explaining further, Olawale illustrated that a normal sports betting company is the house that dictates the odds for sports betting enthusiasts to use.
If the odds provided by the sports betting company aren’t backed up with the right data, then there is compromise.
According to Olawale, the data from the match is very important because it is the basis of the gaming industry and Lovefootball relies on this data because it leverages in allocating points to each of the managers on its platform ( Lovefootball users are also managers because they manage their own teams and wallet).
The startup’s platform allows people to have a wallet that they use to engage with others and share value and enter into contests.
“We also use technology to collate scores and winnings. Users can cash out winnings once they verify their phone numbers, email addresses, and identity.
Users will also have to provide a bank account to which your earnings will be paid to. Technology is the number one driver of our business.”
Olawale stated that the number one challenge Lovefootball is facing is the financial constraint of bootstrapping in a very competitive space.
He explained that the startup has been able to manage with funds raised from the founder’s family and friends, however, business financing for SMEs in Nigeria has not been the best.
“We have tried to apply for some government interventions and grants but so far we are still expecting to hear back.
Nonetheless, we continue to forge ahead and we are encouraged by members who continue to load their wallets and enter contests on the platform.”
Another big challenge for Olawale is the availability of tech talent with the commitment, expertise, and experience to help the startup execute.
“When we were in the Founder Institute cohort, I was on the lookout for a technical co-founder who could help translate the vision into codes.
Unfortunately, I was unable to get one. I was however able to get an advisor in the shape of Mr. Idowu Akinde (FI Mentor) who assisted in guiding me in managing engagement with techies (mostly outsourced) who helped put together our present product. (MVP).
We are still on the lookout and have recently been meeting some interesting people who are showing high levels of enthusiasm about joining our team.”
The founder further stated that, making payments for service providers in forex has also been a bit of a challenge as some service providers do not accept Nigerian cards and the CBN policies on making forex transfers ensure that it takes far too long to get the payments made.
“We have to go that extra mile to ensure these are handled in such a manner that ensures little or no disruption to services for our membership.”, Olawale added
Olawale said that the launch of the Lovefootball app is one of its biggest milestones. Using concierge methods like Google forms in addition to other syndicate platforms like WhatsApp, the startup gathered some required information as it didn’t own a website then.
However, the founder launched the startup’s website and mobile app on October 5, 2020.
“We’ve been able to communicate more with our customers on these platforms and we’ve gotten so much feedback from them.
Using these platforms in December 2020 we reached another milestone of a thousand contests hosted on our platform.”
We are a bootstrapping company in an industry that is very competitive and we’re doing something that’s somewhat new and different from what is the norm so we’re doing a lot of testing and research.
Our business model, cash flow, and revenue model is changing, we now know some key drivers that we should be able to press and leverage on to get exponential growth.”
The founder is looking at the next stage of moving forward and bringing its product to the market in the near future. Currently, the startup platform has had users from 24 states in Nigeria in six months.
Founder Institute experience
Olawale was already on an entrepreneurial journey before he joined the Founder Institute (FI) program.
According to the founder, what FI gave him was some perspective into the kind of thorough research and work required for business building.
“You learn the importance of asking questions, digging deep into your competition and yourself, and narrowing down on your value proposition.”
Olawale also mentioned the importance of identifying the things that are very necessary to a business but which are sometimes taken for granted.
“For example the importance of a structured model that was a bit outside of the box and well structured to pinpoint all the things needed to run a successful business and get outside help like funding, product building, product management, and getting advisors. I think it was an invaluable foundation for this business and myself as an entrepreneur.”
Lovefootball in the future
“In the nearest future, I see my startup developing a solution that will capture the kind of people in Nigeria that want to be rewarded for their fandom and understand the importance of connecting.”
Olawale hopes for hundreds of thousands of people in Nigeria and other countries to get onboard on the platform while expanding its currency reach beyond the naira.
I also see us creating value that we can offer to other developed countries within the football and sports industry.
For LVM I see us being able to birth other products that can also add value not just in the football world in the latter future.
Featured Image: Olawale Adegoke, Founder of Lovefootball
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